Anyone keeping an eye on the current battle
between Formula One powerbrokers and the Grand Prix Manufacturers’ Association teams
(BMW, Honda, Mercedes, Renault, Toyota) already knows that relations are strained, and that’s being polite.

This week,
FIA boss Max Mosley has asked teams who haven’t yet signed on for the
2008 season to do so by next month, despite the huge concerns expressed by
those teams about the nature of the competition they are signing on for.

In a nutshell, they want a bigger share of
revenues and fewer limitations on the use of technology, but Mosley has other
ideas.

The money argument is a particularly
interesting one. Mosley wants to limit the budget of all teams to around $AU134
million, giving the less financial teams a better chance to compete. Ferrari’s current
budget is reportedly close to $AU675 million, not that it helped them last
season. With half a billion fewer dollars to play with, does that mean Ferrari will
be racing in billycarts? Don’t bet on it.

Even more controversially, Mosley also said
teams would be unlikely see a greater slice of the profits because their bank
balances would be so much healthier from the savings. While his team budget
argument suggests a commitment to fairness, and even encourages a reinvestment
of those funds into other areas of motorsport, this argument smacks of greed.

Keen F1 watcher and Crikey reader Barry
Ellis pointed us in the direction of some interesting figures. The Formula One
Administration, Bernie Ecclestone’s mob, made a $447 million profit in 2004,
more than doubling that of 2003. The figures for 2005 are expected to be healthy
again.

As Barry wrote: “With numbers like these
perhaps Mr Ecclestone could afford to rebate a little to the state of
Victoria to balance the books on an event at Albert Park,” which some
pundits have suggested might have taken a loss of $100
million by now.

Which leads us to ask, how many other races
on the international circuit are spending public money to fatten up Bernie’s
bank account? And why shouldn’t the teams themselves get a better share of the
profits they help create?

Peter Fray

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